Jump to content
Chinese-forums.com
Learn Chinese in China

  • Why you should look around

    Since 2003, Chinese-forums.com has been helping people learn Chinese faster and get to China sooner. Our members can recommend beginner textbooks, help you out with obscure classical vocabulary, and tell you where to get the best street food in Xi'an. And we're friendly about it too. 

    Have a look at what's going on, or search for something specific. We hope you'll join us. 
Viktor_77

How to remember for the characters?

Recommended Posts

Viktor_77

Hello Everyone,

My name is Viktor, I am 23 years old and I am from Hungary.
I just found this forum and I think this is the most useful Chinese forum i have ever seen. I am studying for almost 1,5  years and I am having difficulties in the memorising of the Characters. I can understand the tones, the sandhi (not easy to memorize, but I can find some logic in that), I love the grammar... etc. I just simply always forget the characters, after a time. If I can remember them, I will study much faster, I think.  I really want to be a professional and I have a  strong will to learn. Can you suggest me some method what could help me in this ?

I suppose, there has to be a method for this.
This is really frustrating for me, and I want to get over with it.
Thanks, in advance

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Site Sponsors:
Pleco for iPhone / Android iPhone & Android Chinese dictionary: camera & hand- writing input, flashcards, audio.
Study Chinese in Kunming 1-1 classes, qualified teachers and unique teaching methods in the Spring City.
Learn Chinese Characters Learn 2289 Chinese Characters in 90 Days with a Unique Flash Card System.
Hacking Chinese Tips and strategies for how to learn Chinese more efficiently
Popup Chinese Translator Understand Chinese inside any Windows application, website or PDF.
Chinese Grammar Wiki All Chinese grammar, organised by level, all in one place.

889

What works for one person may not work well for another, but I find writing characters out again and again -- filling up page after page -- a good approach, as well as reading and then reading more. Concentrate on the basic 300-400 characters. Once you've got those locked down new characters will be far easier.

 

Great too if you can spend time in China and read everything you see everywhere. Also will help enormously with speaking and listening skills.

 

(Don't be discouraged: 18 months is hardly any time at all when it comes to studying Chinese.)

 

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Zbigniew

I sympathize, Viktor.

 

I've seldom done exercises in memorizing characters in isolation; I've always found that approach a little mind-numbing and unfulfilling. My main approach has been to read real Chinese as much as possible so that I get practice at meeting characters in their naturally occurring frequency. One thing I've taken time to do quite a bit of is doing focused comparisons of similar looking characters so that I don't continue to confuse them - something that easily happens in the early stages when there are so many characters to take in all at once and you can't remember all the details even of some commonly recurring characters unless you take your time to really look at them.

 

You know, we really are lucky today learning Chinese with the help of computers. Practically any online Chinese text can be instantly converted into Pinyin, and dictionaries like that on the MDBG site can give you rapid breakdowns of the meanings of characters together with all sorts of ancillary information such as how to write them and what common words employ them etc.

 

When I first took up Chinese (which was some time before you were born, and I've taken it up and put it down more than once) there was no digital material at all to learn from and every character you met in your reading and didn't know had to be looked up in a dictionary's radical index. It was immensely time consuming, and the smug assessment made by some teachers about the effort required to look up the character making it more likely that you would internalize it securely and be less likely to forget it was not only a load of baloney, but actually helped ensure that you often forgot one or two of the characters you'd met and looked up five minutes before at the beginning of the long sentence you were reading and that you then had to look up again in order to make complete sense of the sentence.

 

And yes, in the hope that it will make you feel better, I can tell you that after getting to the end of a sentence and finding I had to look up the character(s) at the beginning of a sentence a second time, I would commonly get to the end of the sentence again and find I had forgotten a character there that I'd already looked up but had had to tear myself away from in order to look up the character(s) I'd forgotten at the beginning. 

 

坚持就是胜利。

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
vellocet

Rote memorization.  It sucks but there's no way around it.  You have to commit the characters to your long-term memory somehow.  Use Anki or other SRS software for this.  

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Viktor_77

I appreciate your help very much !
Thanks :)
I will hold on and make my way to HSK 5  &HSKK advanced. Anyway,  HSK 3 is coming (this fall) and I already started to revise the materials for the classes of autumn.
I feel happy now, thank you very much!

I am looking forward to hear anyone's idea :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Lumbering Ox

Remembering the Hanzi. The Japanese version [Kanji] worked pretty well for me till I gave up on the language.

Even to this day I remember more than one would expect. Also characters of either sort just seem to look different than before. I can spot them as a set of components instead of a crazy jumble of squiggles.

 

Comes in Simplified and Traditional.

 

I never bothered to come up with an elaborate visual mental image. Just used the English keywords to generate simple sentences that were easy to remember. Used Anki [yes there are pre made decks at least for simplified] and went English keyword to Kanji or in your case Hanzi writing it out each time.

 

Some of the English keywords he uses even I had to look up btw.

 

Also the point of the book isn't to teach you the language, it is only to be able to write a Hanzi after being prompted with the English keyword. If your Chinese is really up to snuff you could probably replace the English keywords with Chinese pinyin.

 

I figure it would take about 300 hours to go through both books, but would save more than that in the long run.

 

If I had to learn all them characters by rote I'd probably want to blow my brains out or just switch to Hindi or Korean.

 

There is a pdf from the publishers website that covers the introduction and the first 100 or so Hanzi so you can try before you buy.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Viktor_77

Dear Ox! 
I tried that book already, but I gave up :( I didn't understand the method of the book correctly.
Could you help me to understand the way of proper learning from that book ? 
I am clear with the following: It helps you remember to the Hanzi, but doesn't teach you the grammar. Perfect! That's what I need!! :)
I want to do this! 
But how ? I would appreciate any help, related to this book and it's method. :)
I almost forgat this book, now it's clearly in my mind again. Please help!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
耳耳语语

I also found it helpful to use auditive memory, by vocalizing every subpart of characters when I'm learning them (not only radicals, but all subparts, even with ginving them somewhat arbitrary names).

For example when I learn I will say to myself something like "mián, cotton, tree and white scarf".
 

 

 

 

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Viktor_77

Seems helpful, thanks :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
roddy

Yeah, there's no indication that you've started by learning the components of characters. Do that. Try Skritter or similar. 

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Viktor_77

Skritter, seems nice so far, I will check out deeper today. Thank you.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Shelley
2 hours ago, Viktor_77 said:

I tried that book already, but I gave up

 

Personally I wouldn't bother with that book. In my opinion it is more effort than its worth. You have to learn more than you need.

 

The very best way in my opinion is as @vellocet and @889 said, by writing the characters out over and over until they stick. Once you have learnt a character you need to go back and review and renew your knowledge with more practice.

 

I find Hanzi Grids very helpful and useful, you can find it here  https://www.hanzigrids.com/

The free version is useable but it worth the small price to unlock more features.

 

One reason writing characters out over and over is it build "muscle memory" so it is very important to use the correct stroke order, using the correct stroke order also helps you remember them and is the correct way to write. If you have a paid version of Pleco there are stroke orders for many characters but if you buy the addon you will get almost all there are. Pleco is also good for flashcards and has other exercises that will help you learn characters and chinese. It is also an excellent dictionary. Find Pleco here https://www.pleco.com/

 

Remember practice, practice and practice some more, hope it goes well for you.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Viktor_77

Thank you, I start to realize now, how huge is the road ahead of me :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Shelley

Yes, it is a long road but I think it is a very enjoyable road.:wink:

 

You have made a good start by finding Chinese Forums, You will find it is a very friendly and helpful forum. Don't hesitate to come and ask questions or just join in discussions.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Napkat

First off, hey Viktor! Welcome to the forums. :)

 

I can only really echo what the others have said. SRS (Spaced Repetition Software) is almost a necessity for remembering characters. If you haven't started using something like Anki yet, then I strongly suggest you download and start using it.

 

Build your own 'deck' of characters you want to remember and Anki, using its algorithm, will show you cards that you're just about to forget. This will really help them stick in your memory. Once you're more comfortable using Anki, try adding the Chinese Support add-on; it'll speed up deck creation and make high-quality cards with little effort.

 

One major factor (for me, at least) in remembering Chinese characters was understanding how they're composed, how parts of a character came to make a character; namely, learning the radicals. If you make the time investment in learning the first 100 most commonly-used radicals, this will make both remembering and writing characters much much easier. Thankfully, the owner of Hacking Chinese - Olle Linge - made a high-quality Anki deck for learning these 100 radicals which can be found here.

 

I hope that helps, good luck with character learning! Let us know how you get on :D

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
wibr

@Viktor_77 What exactly didn't you understand about Remembering the Hanzi? I used the first book and found it quite good to get started...

 

Just as an example, let's say you want to remember 律 "law", learning direction English to Chinese (only the character), you think of "law" and you want to write the character for that keyword. "law" is rather abstract, so the first step would be to have an image for "law", maybe a lawyer, someone you know or from a tv series, whatever works. Next you need to connect this image with the images of the components, 彳(walking) and 聿 (hand holding a brush[1]) in a story or image. You would have to find out what kind of stories work best for you, there is no limit to your creativity. E.g. "The lawyer is *walking* into the courtroom, *holding a brush in his hand* and painting the floor red." Once you are able to recall this story, you have just to remember the characters/components for *walking* and *hand holding brush*. That part is usually easy, either the components are quite simple (like in this case), or another character which you can further break down using the same approach. Some components like 彳  also appear quite frequently, so you have some repetition helping you. For 亻 I usually used Harry Potter who would do all kinds of magic things with the other components.

 

[1] from the Outlier dictionary, www.outlier-linguistics.com, by @OneEye

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Shelley

I am sorry @wibr but I find all of this making up stories so far removed from actually learning to write and remember characters, I apologise but it actually annoys me for some reason I can't explain.

Learn the components of characters, put your effort in to this, spend your time writing and SRS flashcards,

 

Also personally some of the stories are so far fetched that it makes it harder for me to remember as I try and work out what that particular story was supposed to be reminding me of.

I know it is subjective and what works for some doesn't for others, but I really suggest you by pass this book and get on with some useful learning. The fact the OP didn't understand it only goes to show it is probably not for them.

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
wibr

@Shelley Well you already made your point a previous post, there is really no reason to reiterate on that. As you said yourself, it's subjective and personally I don't mind bringing some creativity into the learning process. If you combine it with etymology, you will actually understand characters much better than just writing them over and over.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Lumbering Ox
10 hours ago, Viktor_77 said:

Could you help me to understand the way of proper learning from that book ? 
I am clear with the following: It helps you remember to the Hanzi, but doesn't teach you the grammar. Perfect! That's what I need!! :)
I want to do this! 
But how ? I would appreciate any help, related to this book and it's method. 

 

 

There are multiple ways of doing the book, here is what I did.

 

1: Use Anki, go English key word to Hanzi. Write it down before deciding if you passed or failed.

Anki is just wonderful for smashing things into the skull. By writing it down you use muscle memory. It is sort of a form of rote but a bit more efficient. Some people don't bother writing, some people even do Kanji to English keyword but you will get more if you do it the harder way.

2: When you first encounter the Hanzi in the book, come up with the memory device and write it down 3 to 5 times. Maybe even write down the memory device.

3: Some characters you will just have to remember, especially the first 20 or so in the book and the radicals. However you use them so often that they will stick. The decks I've seen don't bother testing radicals because they are tested among multiple characters.

4: The memory device. The author recommends coming up with a mental image for each character, I didn't do that, that just irks me. Some people like to come up with long complex stories for a character. I also didn't do that because it irks me.

I just came up with a sentence. Short and simple.

 

These are from memory and from the Kanji book.

The Kanji for chief is the combination of the radical for white and person. The person radical looks like a T so as a memory aid he recommends using a person that is larger than like, I use Mr T from the A team tv series and Rocky 3 movie. White which is an early Kanji in the book combines a drop with sun or day, the latter looks like a window. A drop of sun is white [well yellow but still]

I remember chief as "Mr T would have made chief if he was white.

I remember female as stop spooning turkeys there are females about. Female [or was it women] being the combo of those three components in that order.

 

Sometimes it is hard to get a story, but you do get better over time.

Ideally you can get a story that runs in the same order [left to right or up to down] as the radicals in the character like in the female example.

 

I am not sure if this is of any help or not.

Also if your English isn't so good, the method might not work so well, perhaps translate the key words and stories into Hungarian, I donno.

 

I find the method is very popular in the Japanese learning world with about half loving and half hating it but the haters seem to expect more from the method than should be expected.

For whatever reason the method gets very little love on the Chinese side and I am not sure why because it should be equally effective for Kanji, Hanzi Hanja or whatever.

 

If you have a more specific question, I'll try to answer them for you. It does help a lot to get a premade deck, the one I used needed modifying.

 

 

 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Lumbering Ox
57 minutes ago, wibr said:

Just as an example, let's say you want to remember 律 "law", learning direction English to Chinese (only the character), you think of "law" and you want to write the character for that keyword. "law" is rather abstract, so the first step would be to have an image for "law", maybe a lawyer, someone you know or from a tv series, whatever works. Next you need to connect this image with the images of the components, 彳(walking) and 聿 (hand holding a brush[1]) in a story or image. You would have to find out what kind of stories work best for you, there is no limit to your creativity. E.g. "The lawyer is *walking* into the courtroom, *holding a brush in his hand* and painting the floor red." Once you are able to recall this story, you have just to remember the characters/components for *walking* and *hand holding brush*. That part is usually easy, either the components are quite simple (like in this case), or another character which you can further break down using the same approach. Some components like 彳  also appear quite frequently, so you have some repetition helping you. For 亻 I usually used Harry Potter who would do all kinds of magic things with the other components.

 

 

Personally.

 

to enforce the LAW involves much Walking and Hand Holding a Brush [note taking]

 

That is the only thing I would remember. I find having made the story that my mind will fill in the missing bits regardless of if I want to or not.

As in a traffic officer walking about brush in hand enforcing parking laws

or

Doing an investigation by walking around crime scenes taking notes.

 

I like to keep what I actually have to remember as short as possible, I never found the explanations to require effort to memorize.

 

 

But that is part of the point. Do what works for you.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Click here to reply. Select text to quote.

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


×
×
  • Create New...